Tuesday 18 June 2013: A walk across the city
On a pleasant and surprisingly warm summer's evening I walked home after football, through the centre of the city. Football was fun after a three-week absence, even if the game turned out a little one-sided. We were reduced to five-a-side and so brought the goals in a bit to make the pitch a bit smaller. And the sides seemed reasonably even early on, except we seemed much better at taking our chances while they kept missing, or shooting straight at our goalkeeper. So we started to pull ahead, which lead to a bit of 'showboating' at times. I scored one goal with a drag of the ball under my foot to take it past the goalkeeper in a manner I haven't done for ages. It was the sort of tricksy thing to do when playing for fun on The Meadows but I haven't had the chance to score a goal like that in a long time. It made me think of Paul Bowles book The Sheltering Sky and the idea that there are memories that you will only have so many more times in your life. Except, what I wondered was, when will I score my last goal at football? When will I score my last goal like that one, jinking it past the goalkeeper and walking it into the goal? Perhaps I have already scored my last goal in a 'proper' eleven-a-side game. One with a referee and nets in the goals. Hopefully I'll keep playing the smaller games for a while yet, but there will be a time when I think back, and say, 'that was the last time'.
Walking does that for me - sets off trains of thought. I was also (obviously!) on the look-out for a blip. And I thought I'd found it as I walked along London Road admiring the strip of what looked for all the world like wild meadow. Accident or design? Have cuts in the council budget meant less weedkiller is used, and fewer teams are sent out to cut back wild vegetation? Or is it policy to leave wild flowers a bit longer, bringing flowers to the city in unlikely places, providing the urban refuge for bees that people write about in Sunday magazines? When farming is too much chemistry do the bees take refuge in the cities where we are more concerned about our own health and less tolerant of pesticides and weedkillers being used?
So I thought a flower picture would be the one - poppies or giant daisies perhaps. Until I saw the bus shelters down Waterloo Place and recognised the face. Sadly her picture has been all over social networks in recent days as there is still no clue to explain her disappearance. A young Russian woman, who has been studying in the city for several years, has uncharacteristically gone missing. She is a dancer, and was supposed to be dancing the weekend before last but didn't turn up. No-one has seen her for over a week now. Her friends are worried. The posters are everywhere. There are news reports about the case. I hope they find her safe and well.